For the first time since Game 2 of the 2012 ALCS, a Yankees designated hitter recorded a hit in a postseason game.
Chase Headley was the one to finally end the drought, singling through the Astros’ shift to drive in a run as part of a five-run fourth inning in the Yankees’ 8-1 win in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.
Yankees designated hitters — a combination of Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday — had been a combined 0-for-28 this postseason before Headley’s single. Headley finished the night 1-for-3 with a strikeout and is now 1-for-18 in these playoffs, but his lone hit — also the first of his postseason career — proved timely.
Greg Bird led off the fourth inning with a ground-rule double — thanks to Cameron Maybin awkwardly pulling up near the fence down the left-field line — but Houston starter Charlie Morton retired the next two Yankees in order with Bird tagging up to third on a fly out. Morton then pitched around Todd Frazier, walking him on five pitches, to bring up Headley.
Headley worked the count full before poking an 83-mph cutter just to the right of second base. Had the Astros been playing their infield normally, Jose Altuve may have been able to make a play on it to get out of the inning unscathed.
Instead, the ball trickled perfectly between Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa. Altuve fielded the ball in shallow right field, but had no shot to throw out Headley at first as Bird came in to score to make it 4-0 Yankees.
Headley’s hit prolonged the inning, which Aaron Judge put an exclamation point on two batters later with a three-run home run.
Raul Ibanez was the last Yankees’ DH to collect a hit in the playoffs, but since then they were a combined 0-for-41. Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 in the 2013 wild-card game and Rodriguez and Ibanez coupled to go 0-for-9 in the final two-plus games of the 2012 ALCS, in which the Tigers swept the Yankees.
There will be no such sweep this year. Headley helped make sure of it.